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UK seizes drugs in Mideast waters

The US Navy revealed on Sunday that it had seized a boat in the Gulf of Oman that was transporting weapons to Yemen last year and was carrying fertiliser used to build bombs. In the same waters, the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom reported it seized 1,041 kilogrammes (2,295 pounds) of illegal substances.

The seizures were just the latest in the turbulent seas of the Persian Gulf, as American and British authorities ramp up seizures of contraband in the midst of Yemen’s protracted strife and the region’s continued drug trafficking.

The USS Cole, a guided-missile destroyer, and patrol ships from the US Navy’s 5th Fleet in the Middle East halted and searched the sailboat, a stateless fishing dhow, that was travelling from Iran on a well-worn maritime arms smuggling route to war-torn Yemen last Tuesday.

The yacht had already been taken off the coast of Somalia and discovered laden with thousands of assault rifles, rocket launchers, and other weapons last year, according to authorities. Weapons with such technical attributes, according to UN experts, are most likely coming from Iran to bolster the Houthi rebels. Earlier this week, the Navy handed over the vessel, cargo, and Yemeni crew to Yemen’s coast guard.

Small weaponry have been smuggled into Yemen’s poorly guarded ports throughout years of conflict, and the country is saturated with them. Houthi rebels backed by Iran have been fighting a Saudi-led military coalition for control of Yemen since 2015. Despite evidence to the contrary, Iran claims to assist the rebels politically but denies arming them.


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